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I’ll never forget the first time I saw Megan Fox. I was 18, and she was the shining star of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (no shade to Optimus Prime). Everyone on Earth talked about how beautiful Megan Fox was, but I could only focus on one thing: her eyebrows. They were perfect—arched, flawlessly symmetrical, and very bold. I believe this was the defining moment in eyebrow history that ushered in the transition from the thin, over-plucked brows of the '90s and early aughts to the full, untouched hair trends of today. Anyone else seeking justice for Megan and her trendsetting ways? Let me know.
I’ve never plucked my eyebrows, but they’re still uneven. Typically, it takes me quite a bit of time, product, and frustration to get my eyebrows relatively symmetrical, and even then, the arches are lopsided. It’s not only annoying but also makes me want to hide them under oversized sunglasses. After weeks of Googling the latest techniques and practitioners, I found something that spoke to me so loudly; it may as well have been screaming my full name: brow mapping. I had never heard of it, but after scrolling the Instagram feed of SIX+AIT, I signed myself up for a brow mapping and microblading treatment, optimistic that my uneven brows might finally shape up.
Are your brows in need of some TLC? Keep reading to learn about brow mapping, what to expect during the treatment, and all about my first brow mapping experience.
What Is Brow Mapping?
Eyebrow mapping is a shaping technique that uses the golden ratio for facial proportions to help achieve symmetry and sculpt the most flattering shape for your brows. “When eyebrows follow the golden ratio, they will appear harmonious to the rest of the client’s facial features,” explains Lucy Masu, a master instructor, director, and cofounder of SIX+AIT. “And Nature is the greatest artist of all; all we can do as mortals is just follow the rules.”
So, what is this seemingly magical golden ratio, anyway? According to Peaches, a master instructor, director, and cofounder of SIX+AIT, “[The golden ratio] is the mathematical ratio of 1.618 to 1. It represents the ideal visual harmony and balance. It’s often used in design, architecture, and fine arts. Like the complex human body and objects found in nature, the ‘perfect brows’ follow the golden ratio rule.”
But, what does brow mapping involve? ”Your brow specialist will take measurements and make marks on the skin. You can then either have your brows shaped and tinted or microbladed,” says Cara Lovello, a celebrity makeup artist. At SIX+AIT, the brow mapping technique is taken a step further because the artists use the string brow mapping method. “Instead of drawing and marking with just a ruler and pencil, the use of an inked string is highly precise and technical. With this method, there is less room for error when trying to achieve symmetry,” explains Masu. “When we use this method to show clients their newly-framed brow design, many of them are shocked by how uneven their brows originally were.” In fact, at SIX+AIT, the artists consider brow mapping to be a crucial precursor to microblading and creating symmetrical brows.
Benefits of Brow Mapping
- Helps achieve brow symmetry
- Improves ability to sculpt your ideal brow shape
- Helps get the artist and client on the same page
If you’re looking for really even brows, brow mapping may be the way to go. “How many of us have left the threading salon 100 percent sure our brows are different heights? That's probably because of lack of brow mapping,” shares Masu. Catherine Wright, the owner of Holiday Organic Skin, says that brow mapping helps determine where your brows should begin, end, and arch and that having good-looking brows helps you look and feel your best. “Brows frame your face,” she says. “A good set of brows, a swipe of mascara, and you’re ready for anything the day might throw your way.”
Masu says the biggest benefit to brow mapping—and the string brow mapping method in particular—is that clients can see their natural asymmetry more easily. “This helps them see the work that needs to be done to achieve more symmetry and harmony. When your clients can easily see your vision, it makes the collaboration and communication smoother,” she explains.
How to Prepare for Brow Mapping
Masu advises that you should always grow your brows out as much as possible before heading in for your treatment, no matter what treatment you are getting following brow mapping, She explains, “This will help your artist visualize the possibilities of different shapes and styles for you. A good artist will always try to work with what you have, within reason.”
What to Expect During a Brow Mapping Experience
At SIX+AIT, the brow mapping process begins with a consultation with your artist about your brow preferences and lifestyle habits. Peaches asked me about my skin type. It’s dehydrated and oily due to extensive travel and lazy water intake. She reinforced that Retin-A use is a big no-no for anyone with microblading because it changes the color of the pigment. Fortunately, I’ve been off it for quite a while now, so we were good to go.
Your brows get cleaned, and then you lay on the treatment table for the measurement procedure. With a special ruler that looked like a combination of an architectural tool and medical equipment, Peaches checked the distance between all points of my upper face, brow length, nose, eye corners, and forehead, searching for symmetry. “Your artist will find a starting point for the head, arch, and tail. These three points will follow the golden ratio to achieve the best balance,” explains Masu. “The artist then uses an inked string, similar to that of threading strings, to draw ‘lines’ across different areas of the forehead to create symmetry while shaping the brows.” With all of the lines and measurements are drawn on my forehead, I looked like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.
Once Peaches showed me the alterations she’d need to create more symmetry, I was startled and so excited. I began listing off everything I could do with my spare time now that I wouldn’t have to even out my brows every day. Those 10 to 20 minutes add up!
Then, if the brow mapping procedure precedes microblading (as it was going to for me), a surgical marker is used to ‘set’ the shape and prepare the skin for numbing. I was expecting the treatment to hurt, but I didn’t feel anything besides the slight stinging of color application halfway through the procedure. Everyone is different, and it’s worth noting that I have a very high pain threshold, but Peaches’ numbing cream worked for me.
Because there were areas Peaches microbladed that were originally hairless, she reiterated how necessary a touchup would be for me, and she scheduled it for six weeks later before I left the studio.
At-Home vs. Professional Brow Mapping
All of our experts say that it is challenging to do brow mapping on your own, though it’s possible. “You can learn the technique in the DIY scene if you sift through the many ratios of mapping to find the right one,” says Wright. “We don’t recommend it since fiddling in the mirror with hot wax can leave your brows uneven or gone.” In other words, even if you’re mathematically, architecturally, and artistically inclined, you still have to remove the hair in the places where you are sculpting your brows. And, an at-home wax job is rarely going to replicate the quality results you’ll get from a professional artist who can wax or microblade your brows with the best tools, techniques, and experience.
But, if you’re the DIY type and feel you have the confidence and patience to try your hand at brow mapping, Lovello has some tips: “From a makeup artist’s perspective, to ‘map’ your brows at home, before filling them in, hold your angled brush alongside your nose—that’s where your brow should start.” Lovello says that using this point as a guide for where to start your brows will help ensure your brows aren’t too close together or too far apart. “Next, hold your brush at an angle from the corner of your nose, and let it rest on the corner of your eye. Where the brush and your brow meet is how long it should be on the outer side,” she explains.
Potential Side Effects
Brow mapping itself doesn’t really have any drawbacks or risks. However, it’s usually a precursor to waxing or microblading. Wright says that there are some health contraindications to waxing. For example, certain prescription drugs can make your skin too thin and delicate to wax safely. It is best to consult your doctor if you’re taking medications. And, Lovello notes, “Microblading is a semi-permanent solution, so if you aren’t ready to commit, I would try threading and brow tinting. Another risk is not finding the right brow artist for the job.”
Brow mapping will typically run you $35-$120. At Wright’s salon, the service is $45. Brow mapping at SIX+AIT is not a standalone service, so it isn't cheap. A session of brow mapping and microblading with Peaches will run you $1000, while a session with her colleagues is anywhere from $650 to $900. Your first touchup, which is recommended within the first six months, is $300. The second one is $450 and should be sometime between six months and one year. If you get a refresher touchup after one year from your initial treatment, you're looking at a $550 price tag.
There is no aftercare with the brow mapping process itself. “You will be asked to maintain the shape either through tweezing or threading afterward,” says Masu. But, if you get microbladed, Lovello says that you might not want to plan anything for a few days afterward because your brows will darker and scab over. Wright adds that if you got waxed or otherwise have pain and irritation, applying some organic aloe can help.
I followed Peaches’ aftercare instructions to a T. The day after my treatment, my brows were much darker, but by day six, most of the darker pigment had naturally flaked off and healed. I have multiple tattoos, so the aftercare and healing phase was easy and familiar for me, and I literally couldn’t be happier with my newfound symmetry.
How Often Should You Have Your Brows Mapped?
“Brow mapping should be done whenever you feel you need to achieve better symmetry—before tinting, shaping, or microblading,” says Masu. However, once you’ve mapped, the length of time that your nicely shaped brows will last depends on how you chose to remove the hair (waxing, microblading, etc.). Wright says that if you wax, you usually need a treatment “every three weeks to look your best. You’ll be shaggy at four weeks since brow hair grows on a 30-day cycle.”
The Final Takeaway
“Likely everyone should choose brow mapping over a brow service where the esthetician is just waxing whatever shape they like. That’s like driving blindfolded—insane!” shares Wright. Masu adds that getting your brows mapped is an excellent idea if you feel like your brows have always been uneven. She says that since brow mapping is usually a precursor for additional beauty services like tinting or microblading, anyone considering these services should ask if their artists can do brow mapping as well. I’m obsessed with how well mine came out and loved how I don’t even need to touch them anymore, yet they are beautifully arched and symmetrical. Maybe I’m not quite at Megan Fox level, but hey, I feel pretty darn close.